Sexual and reproductive health and rights
Canada supports the goal of ensuring that women and girls in all their diversity can decide what to do with their bodies, their lives and their futures—without question. Canada supports this goal for many reasons, including the following:
- In a number of developing countries, on average only 55% of women aged 15 to 49 years who are married or in a union make their own decisions about sexual relations, the use of contraceptives and reproductive health services.
- An estimated 257 million women who want to avoid pregnancy are not using safe and modern methods of contraception.
- Nearly a quarter of all women are not able to say no to sex.
- Contraceptive use is 53% lower among women who have experienced intimate partner violence.
- Each year, there are approximately 121 million unintended pregnancies around the world; 60% of these end in abortion.
- 45% of abortions performed globally are unsafe, leading to the hospitalization of 7 million women a year and causing 5 to 13% of all maternal deaths.
Sexual and reproductive health and rights are essential for gender equality and health
- A lack of attention to sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) contributes directly to maternal mortality, poor health and the disenfranchisement of women and girls.
- When women and—particularly—adolescent girls have information and decision-making power, they can stay healthy, avoid unwanted pregnancies, prevent or treat sexually transmitted infections—including HIV—reduce their risk of experiencing sexual and gender-based violence, complete more years of school and obtain the education and skills they need to become economically productive.
- Evidence demonstrates the positive links between SRHR and women and girls’ economic empowerment; it is estimated that with each additional child born to a woman between the ages of 25 and 39, labour participation decreases by 10 to 15%.
Why a comprehensive approach to SRHR is important
- Having support for sexual and reproductive health and exercising sexual and reproductive rights means having the rights, knowledge and ability to make decisions and to access services concerning one’s reproductive life and sexuality.
- Taking a comprehensive approach to advancing SRHR means providing an essential package of SRHR interventions within a life-course approach, applying equity in access to, and quality of, care—without discrimination. It means that needs and issues related to SRHR are addressed through services, education, counselling and information.
- A comprehensive approach to advancing SRHR also means looking beyond health services to address the gendered inequalities, discriminatory social norms and institutional structures that limit the promotion of SRHR, in order to advance health, gender equality and human rights and support the empowerment of diverse groups of women and adolescent girls.
Canada’s priorities focus on the neglected areas of SRHR
- In 2019, Canada made a 10-year commitment to reach an average of $1.4 billion in funding each year by 2023 to support women’s, children’s and adolescents’ health around the world; $700 million of this funding is dedicated to SRHR. Canada is scaling up investments in under-funded areas of SRHR, including expanding access to safe abortions and post-abortion care, advancing SRHR for adolescents—including comprehensive sexuality education—supporting family planning and advocating for the advancement of SRHR and the prevention of sexual and gender-based violence.
- As part of this 10-year commitment, Global Affairs Canada (GAC) supports Canadian, international and local organizations on the ground in partner countries; these organizations have a deep understanding of existing health inequities and interventions that work given local contexts.
- GAC works closely on SRHR with Canadian and international partners, including the Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health, Ipas, Pathfinder International, MSI Reproductive Choices, Plan International, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Supplies Partnership, Save the Children, the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and the UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to End Child Marriage.
- Canada also works to advance SRHR through advocacy and coordination with partners, such as the Ouagadougou Partnership, Family Planning 2030 and SheDecides.
- Canada’s 10-Year Commitment to Global Health and Rights
- Government of Canada makes historic investment to promote the health and rights of women and girls around the world
- Canada strengthens commitment to global health and nutrition beyond 2020
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